RIVERSIDE — Sidney played a nearly-perfect game against a rebuilding Greenville squad in Week 1. The Yellow Jackets nearly pulled off an imperfect victory against a veteran Stebbins squad last Friday but made one too many mistakes.
Sidney (1-1) took the lead right before halftime but committed two turnovers in the second half, one of which led to the Indians’ game-winning touchdown.
The two turnovers ended two of Sidney’s four second-half drives in the 22-20 loss. The squad had two big mistakes in the first half: a botched punt that set up a short Stebbins TD run and two consecutive sacks that resulted in a safety.
Altogether, the turnovers, botched punt and safety resulted in 16 of Stebbins’ 22 points.
“Without having the scrimmages and (7-on-7’s) and all the stuff you normally have a summer that we didn’t have (due to COVID-19), we’re still learning,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “We’re still finding out what kind of football team we are.
“I think it’s going to take three or four weeks for people to figure out who they are. This is going to be a testament to what kind of character this team has, with how they bounce back from this.”
Sidney still made plenty of big plays. The Yellow Jackets forced four turnovers, blocked an extra-point attempt and had three kickoff returns over 20 yards.
They also completed two big passes in the final minutes of the first half, including a 21-yard pass from Cedric Johnson to Sam Reynolds with two seconds left. That play came 40 seconds after a long Stebbins TD run and gave Sidney a 20-16 halftime lead.
“Without seeing film, I think we got better this week and made some big plays against a quality team, but obviously it wasn’t enough to get us a win,” Doenges said. “We’ve got to continue to get better.”
One big performer for the Yellow Jackets was senior defensive back Jacob Wheeler. Wheeler caught six passes for 77 yards, one of which was a 35-yard TD pass along the visitor’s sideline late in the second quarter. He also had two interceptions.
“He was really good on defense this week and really in tune with routes and recognizing the route combinations,” Doenges said. “It was nice to see what he did during a week of practice to come to fruition on Friday night.”
Sidney moved the ball consistently through most of the first half but didn’t in the second half. The Yellow Jackets had the ball four times in quick-moving second half as Stebbins (2-0) controlled the time of possession.
Both third-quarter drives both ended in turnovers. Sidney quickly punted on their first drive in the fourth and their second drive ended when they turned the ball over on downs with 57 seconds left.
“Like a lot of offenses, we depend a lot on flow, when you pick up some yards in chunks and get in a rhythm and get a good thing going,” Doenges said. “We’re pretty lethal when we do that, but we couldn’t get in enough of a rhythm tonight. There’d be a dropped ball or a holding call or a sack, and that disrupted the rhythm.”
“… A lot of credit goes to (Stebbins) for disrupting us,” Doenges said. “… We knew their defense was going to be really good. They return their top eight tacklers and the majority of their defense from last year, and when you do that, you can be pretty special.”
Sidney will play its first home game of the season next Friday when it hosts West Carrollton for an MVL Valley Division matchup. The Pirates, which lost by three points to Stebbins in a season opener, dropped to 0-2 with a 45-32 loss at Fairborn on Friday.
“They played (Stebbins) pretty even, so we’re going to have our work cut out for our senior night next week,” Doenges said.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
The six turnovers Stebbins and Sidney committed in Friday’s MVL matchup were far from the only committed in games involving area squads.
Marion Local completed six turnovers in a MAC game against New Bremen on Friday — though they held tough on defense and eked out a 21-13 win.
Anna committed five turnovers in a 31-point loss to St. Henry on Friday and Lehman Catholic committed six turnovers in a 32-point loss to Riverside.
Versailles looking for 1st win over Marion Local since 2012
The Tigers will try for their first win against Marion Local since 2012 when the teams face off in Versailles this week.
Versailles is 2-0 for the first time since 2011. The squad won four of their first nine matchups with Marion Local after joining the Midwest Athletic Conference in 2001. The teams didn’t play in 2010 and 2011. Marion Local has won seven consecutive matchups since its 2012 loss.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.